The Norman Transcript

N-town reviews

November 7, 2013

Book review: Orange is the New Black is a true, compelling and entertaining read

NORMAN — Book: Orange is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison (2011, Spiegel & Grau)

Author: Piper Kerman

Why you should read: Freelance producer Piper Kerman didn’t have the look of a criminal, living in New York City with her boyfriend, Larry, a men’s magazine editor. But when the police show up at her door, Kerman’s long-ago past comes rushing up to meet her, a past her boyfriend and family knew nothing about. After graduating from Smith College, Kerman lingered in the college town waiting tables, yearning for excitement. When she begins dating an older woman named Nora, who admits she’s involved in international drug trafficking, Kerman dives right in. By the time she realized things were getting too heavy, it was too late.

Her delivery of a suitcase filled with $10,000 in drug money happened 10 years ago, but that doesn’t stop her from acquiring inmate No. 11187-424 and a 15-month sentence to the Danbury, Conn., federal correction facility. Stripped of her freedom and everything she knows, Kerman spends her time behind bars, learning how to maneuver through the system while meeting women of all backgrounds. “Orange is the New Black” is currently No. 1 on the NY Times Bestseller List for paperback nonfiction. Kerman chronicles her memoir from the time before she lands behind bars up until her release.

While in prison, Kerman finds enlightenment and surprising acts of kindness through her fellow inmates, and experiences first-hand how things are handled on the inside, both good and bad. And though it’s a memoir, it doesn’t focus solely on the writer. Instead, it offers an interesting look into the controlled world Kerman lived in for more than a year. She shines the light on everyone else, while sprinkling pieces of herself throughout. “Orange is the New Black” is a compelling read that can’t be put down easily, and stays with you long after it’s over.

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